Monday, October 22, 2018

Naming of THIRD PH TELCO Set for this Coming NOVEMBER

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While the companies involved tend not to point it out, it is rather plain to see that the telecommunications market in the Philippines is in the midst of a duopoly, where users of phones have choices that really only fall into two camps, that of Globe and that of PLDT/Smart. The government has been hoping to break that tug of war into a more healthy competition by pushing for the entry of a “third telco”, whether local or international. Bids have been taken for this plum position several months back, with some situation updates at least once a month. Now, the waiting is almost over.
CNN Philippines reports that by early November, the government will be ready to declare the official third telephone company of the Philippines to break up the status quo between PLDT and Globe. Acting Cabinet Secretary Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) made the pronouncement this Monday, October 22, on a senate committee hearing with regards to the final choosing of the third telco. “On November 7, we will have a provisional new major player, barring any decision from the court,” Sec. Rio declared.
With the search for the third wheel in the Globe-PLDT contest starting to wind down, complications have begun to pop up which would seemingly delay the decision on what will be Telco 3. In particular, bidder NOW Telecom, apparently upset at not being selected, has taken the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) to court, insinuating that the telco search doubled money-making scheme” due to the stringent financial requirements on potential bidding telecom companies. Its filing of a temporary restraining order on the other hand was thrown own by a Manila court. “We are on track in fulfilling President Duterte’s desired timeline,” noted Sec. Rio, “which is to have NMP (new major player) by November this year.”
In the last stretch of the third telco search, eight companies, three of them foreign, gained congressional franchise and put forth P1 million each in bid documents to make their cases for putting up a real fight against the telecom duopoly. The bidders will be analyzed by automated software to check each operator’s reach and speed commitment against PLDT and Globe. Even when selected, the winning third telco can still be replaced by the second-place bidder if it cannot organize its operations effectively. The Congress expects to announce the winning bid this coming November 7.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Friday, October 19, 2018

TESLA Starts Offering LOWER-PRICED 260-Mile Battery MODEL 3 at $45,000

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When Elon Musk presented his Tesla Inc.’s latest electric car the Model 3 sedan to the public last year, it came with a promise that it would be the most affordable electrically-powered automobile yet produced, and well within the means of the average buyer. The “base” Model 3, which is the bare-bones no-frills version of the sedan, was said to be priced at only $35,000. That was the deal; but even as more Model 3’s were sold by Tesla into this year, every one of them was of a higher-priced variant with features added, going for as high as $78,000.
Before anyone begins agitating that the cheap Tesla Model 3 is a lie all along however, Elon Musk went on Twitter the afternoon of Thursday, October 18, to show that yes, the sedan can go cheaper. As The Verge has it, this new Model 3 variant is neither the soup-up version that has been sold thus far, nor is it yet the baseline $35,000 that was promised long ago. Rather, it is a middle option, offering an electric battery good for 260 miles of range and with a starting price of $45,000 without added frills.
This mid-level Tesla Model 3 sedan was made by taking a few power cells off the high-end version battery that had a 310-mile range. This reduction in capacity leaves the car with a top speed of 125 miles per hour, needing 5.6 seconds to go from 0 to 60. It also loses the high-end variant’s dual-motor all-wheel drive, sticking to rear-wheel only. Add-on options to the $45,000 package include $5,000 for Tesla’s advance autopilot feature. A Tesla spokesperson said in a statement that the company was able to begin diversifying the Model 3 variants thanks to having managed to achieve a steady manufacturing capacity volume.
“Our new mid-range battery is being introduced this week in the US and Canada to better meet the varying range needs of the many customers eager to own Model 3,” the official Tesla statement went. “And our delivery estimate for customers who have ordered the Standard Battery is 4-6 months.” According to that timeframe, the earliest possible time for Tesla customers to get a $35,000 Model 3 would be around February of 2019. Furthermore, the long-awaited baseline model will not be included in the coverage of the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric car purchases.
Said tax credit will also begin to be gradually phased out by Tesla now that they have passed the 200,000 vehicle milestone in the number of Model 3’s sold in the US. It will thus be steadily reduced to nothing by the end of 2019.
Image courtesy of New Atlas

TYPHOONS in JAPAN Trigger EARLY CHERRY BLOSSOM BLOOMS Across Country

As the year draws to a close, the Pacific finds itself being crossed from east to west by weather disturbances that give rise to typhoons, which then dash themselves into the many eastern coasts of Asia, from the southeast, to Taiwan and China, to Japan. That last country has seen its fair share of storms in the latter part of 2018 as is accustomed to by its residents (“typhoon” after all comes from the Chinese “Tai Fung” and Japanese “Tai Fuu”, “great wind”). But the last two storms to visit Japan have been so strong that they managed to “trick” local nature into “starting early”.
By that is meant that cherry blossom trees in Japan have started to bloom their world-famous “Sakura” flowers, way before spring which comes the following year according to ABS-CBN News. Granted, such phenomenon has been known to occur according to Flower Association of Japan senior official Toru Koyama, but this is the first time that it has happened on a national scale in recent memory. Now, cherry blossoms are coloring their trees a vibrant pink some six months ahead of their appointed time. This is thanks apparently to the typhoons that lashed the vegetation there.
The explanation for this out-of-season bloom is that a Sakura tree would begin develop its buds for next year’s blossoming in the current year’s summer; however hormones released by the tree leaves prevent the buds from growing, with the cold of winter taking over up until the summer thaws. The typhoons that struck Japan recently had stripped many cherry blossom trees of their leaves, cutting down the inhibiting hormone. And when storms brought a blend of warm sunny weather to colder temperatures – similar to spring conditions – the buds were then tricked into going into bloom.
The Flower Association of Japan has estimated that about 350 sightings of out-of-season bloom have been reported to them in the middle of autumn in the country. That figure is remarkably small compared to the rush of so many people in the actual spring bloom period, the centerpiece of the Japanese cultural tradition of “Hanami” or “flower viewing”. As it stands, only sharp observers would have noticed the phenomenon, and it will not last very long either. Still, such aberrations to the regular biological clocks of organisms as a result of extremely strong weather patterns once again brings to mind the growing environmentalist concerns regarding global warming and greenhouse effects.
Image courtesy of Huffington Post

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Man Behind “SESAME STREET”’S BIG BIRD RETIRES After 50 YEARS

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So many years have passed since Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets who have become such an integral element of the long-running children’s educational program “Sesame Street”, passed away in 1990. Still, his company carried on and became even more successful. Also continuing the path Henson laid out are his longtime associates Frank Oz and Caroll Spinney, who act as puppeteers and voices for many of the most recognizable Muppet characters like Grover, Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird. But the passing of time catches up to all. Oz is semi-retired from Muppet work, and now Spinney is outright retiring.
Fox News has it that Caroll Spinney will be retiring from the role of puppeteer and voice for Big Bird on “Sesame Street”. The Sesame Workshop performer made his announcement on Wednesday, October 17, specifying that his last puppet-work for Big Bird will be a taping of the show the following Thursday. Spinney, now aged 84, has been inside the Big Bird costume since “Sesame Street” started in 1969. He also was also the puppeteer and voice of Oscar the Grouch. With his retirement, puppeteer Matt Vogel, who performs as Kermit the Frog, will also take over as Big Bird.
“I always thought, how fortunate for me that I got to play the two best Muppets?” Spinney noted in a statement regarding his retirement. “Big Bird brought me so many places, opened my mind and nurtured my soul,” Despite stepping down from performances, Spinney will act as an ambassador for Sesame Workshop saying, “After all, we’re a family! But now it’s time for two performers that I have worked with and respected — and actually hand-picked for the guardianship of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch — to take my alter-egos into their hands and continue to give them life.”
For his portrayal of Big Bird, who is described as an 8’2’’ tall humanlike canary, Caroll Spinney actually spent TV shooting time in the costume with his dominant hand held up in the air manipulating Big Bird’s head and moving the beak neck, and his arm serving as the long neck. With his advancing age he eventually passed on actual puppeteer duties in 2015, relegating himself only to voice-work for Big Bird and Oscar. But it was both Spinney’s voice and body language that realized Big Bird and is immortalized in the minds of many children around the world who grew up watching “Sesame Street”.
Sesame Workshop president Jeffrey Dunn highly praised Spinney’s work and legacy. “Big Bird has always had the biggest heart on ‘Sesame Street,’ and that’s Caroll’s gift to us,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say that Caroll’s view of the world and how we should treat each other has shaped and defined our organization.”
Image courtesy of Hollywood Reporter

Next PACQUIAO FIGHT in January 2019

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The particulars of arranging a professional boxing match between two fighters can be a rather complicated process; and that is doubly so the more famous the proposed contenders are. Legendary Filipino boxing champion Manny Pacquiao proved to the world his return to a knockout-capable fighting form back in July with his TKO win over Lucas Matthysse of Argentina, and had hoped that this would smooth the path towards a rematch with undefeated pound-for-pound rival Floyd Mayweather, for some time in December. Those plans fell through but Pac-Man will fight again. His next match will be next year, against another American.
CNN Philippines reports that one-time eight-division world champion and Philippine Senator Manny Pacquiao has announced his finalized next big match on the boxing ring against Adrien Broner, a 4-division world champion; this after failing to secure a long-desired rematch with Floyd Mayweather, one of the few who have beaten him and has not been beaten back in turn. Pacquiao and Broner’s meeting is scheduled for January 2019, the exact date being on either the 12th or 19th of the month, and Las Vegas once again as the most probable venue.
The Pac-Man revealed this surprise on Wednesday, October 17, during an event with the International Sports Promotion Society where he was especially recognized as the body’s first global ambassador from the Philippines. But Pacquiao has always been a most determined sort; while he will prepare to the utmost for Broner, he is not letting up in negotiating with Mayweather and his camp to get a definitive rematch deal in the future. “I think I heard Mayweather is going to fight December 31 and I’m going to fight January 12 and after that we’ll know what date and we’re going to plan a rematch but it’s not finalized yet,” notes Pacquiao.
Rivalry between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather began in earnest several years past, when the Pac-Man began dominating boxing headlines following the latter’s initial retirement from the sport. Shortly after Pacquiao was named the pound-for-pound boxing champion, Mayweather returned and began extending his undefeated victory streak, setting up a confrontation between the two that finally played out in May 2015. Fans, expecting a brutal slugfest with a KO victory, were left unsatisfied by Mayweather’s 12-round unanimous decision win, especially with his defensive strategy of turtling Pacquiao’s blows while punching back for points. A rematch had since been pushed between them, with the unbeaten Mayweather seemingly able to find obstacles to stymie any negotiation with Pac-Man.
Image courtesy of SPORTBible

YOUTUBE DOWN for One Hour

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In this day and age, the internet is more an integral part of a person’s everyday social and entertainment life. Some times of the day will be set aside in order to sit in front of a computer, or a tablet or smartphone that is online, watching streaming videos and content or browsing through a social media feed. That is why a sudden abrupt shutdown of any online platform along those lines, no matter how brief, can feel electronically debilitating to internet regulars. Viewers of pioneer video-sharing website YouTube experienced that first-hand when the platform went down this Tuesday night.
USA Today reports that YouTube went offline the evening of October 16 in several significant areas around the world. The results depended on where the platform’s videos were. Visitors to YouTube.com itself found only a web page loaded halfway, with only subscribed channels listed but no videos shown. Entering the channels led only to a 500 Internal Server error message accompanied by a “monkey with hammer” image. On the other hand, YouTube vids that were embedded onto other websites showed only the preview image (the video section shown when it is stopped) that has been overwritten by lines of code.
According to Down Detector, a web service tracking site inactivity due to whatever reason, the YouTube outage began 9:16 PM Eastern Daylight Time, and affected users primarily in the US East and West Coasts, Europe, and Japan, though there were service interruptions reported outside these areas as well.
The video-sharing platform announced its awareness of the situation on Twitter, but remained mum on the cause of the problem or when the outage will be fixed. As it turns out they did not need to give a restoration time after all; YouTube operations went back to normal about an hour later.
But while the website was down, internet users were as caught off guard as the earlier outage that took hold of Instagram earlier this month. Much like YouTube, its viewers went on Twitter to announce what had happened and to vent, though thankfully mostly in humor. #YouTubeDown instantly became the fifth most Trending Topic in the US for the duration of the momentary service interruption.
Image courtesy of Daily Express